The following article is part 3 in our 5 part series regarding the danger mobile phones pose to our heath in terms of being vectors for the growth and spread of viruses & bacteria. If you want to follow along, head back to our introduction to phone sanitization.
What kind of device sanitization products are available on the market today? If you go searching for a phone sanitation solution, you will find that there are options that seem viable at first but that fall apart under scrutiny. Try to go with one of the makeshift solutions you see suggested online, and you may even damage your phone. Disinfectant wipes tend to wear down touch screens so that they display smudges and fingerprints more readily and become less sensitive to regular use. This is because our phones have a protective oil-repellant coating that isn’t meant to be subjected to alcohol or other heavy chemicals. You can't exactly wash your phone in the sink, either, and even if you could, it would still not deliver the results that sanitation would.
Another shortcoming of phone sanitation solutions on the market is that many create additional dangers. Some existing solution provide poor enclosures for dangerous UV-C light, allowing UV rays to reach people’s eyes and skin, where they can impact our health negatively. This is the most disappointing shortcoming of current phone sanitation solutions because these devices are supposed to help people. Instead, they may be leading to new problems altogether.
Speed is the next shortcoming common to phone sanitation solutions on the market. Because we know that people are not going to adopt a phone sanitation solution that places too great of an inconvenience on them, nothing slow or time-intensive is going to reach the popularity levels that it needs in order to save lives. Virtually all consumer-grade device takes several minutes to run their sanitation process, which is impractical when we think of the time that people are willing to devote to this. We do not even need to consider the logistical challenge of sanitizing a large number of phones using this slow a solution because people will not put up with sanitation times of several minutes to begin with.
Of the phone sanitation solutions that are speedy and effective, there is a third shortcoming, one that is no less real: these devices carry huge pricetags. Requiring costly manufacturing and components, devices can run $10,000 and up, which is a price range that makes them untenable for not only consumers, but also for businesses.
From there in your search for a viable phone sanitation solution, you will probably realize that there is no effective touchless option on the market. Touchless, as far as phone sanitation goes, is not a matter of convenience but of necessity. Especially when many people are using a phone sanitation solution throughout the day, as they would be in communal environments, any solution that is not touchless becomes another vector for bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Lift a lid or touch a lever and then touch your phone. It is as if you had never sanitized your phone in the first place.
Transparency is another key concern in the phone sanitation solution market. Just as people expect that hand sanitizers will state the chemicals that they contain, people will expect phone sanitation solutions to display the results of their laboratory tests. This is, unfortunately, not a common practice among existing phone sanitation solution producers. Laboratory tests have become akin to state secrets, closely guarded by the manufacturers and rarely published. This means that consumers have no way of knowing with confidence that they are spending their money on something that does what it says it does.
People want to know that they can trust products into which they are investing their money. They want evidence that when they are using a phone sanitation solution, it is actually sanitizing their phones. Without laboratory testing and certification, this is impossible. Whether someone is paying $70 or $15,000 for a phone sanitation solution, they should be able to point to a label or a packaging statement and say "This is how I know I have spent my money well."
Going beyond trust, people want to put in minimum effort into phone sanitation. We can look once more to hand washing: it is not an hours-long or even a minutes-long process. You wash your hands for twenty seconds, and then you are done. You are on your way, ready to get on with the rest of your day. It is even simpler and faster to rub sanitizer on one's hands. This is the level of simplicity that people will demand for any phone sanitation solution to go mainstream.
Effective phone sanitation must therefore be effective and efficient. It must promise people results, point to evidence for its promises, and it must deliver those promises quickly and reliably. There is nothing on the market at present that has checked every box, nothing that has done for phone sanitation what we know the ideal solution would do. Falling short in one way or another, the phone sanitation solutions that are available represent the industry's infancy, and widespread adoption will only come out of something more mature.